Category: shelter cats

UPDATE: Kaya The Kitten To Spend Another Week In Shelter’s Care Before Adoption

UPDATE, 12/1: To Rescue says Kaya the kitten is “healing nicely” after surgery on her eyes, but will remain with her foster family for another week before she’s cleared for adoption. Kaya was examined by a veterinarian on Nov. 30 and was given the all-clear. She’ll stay in foster care until she’s finished with her medication.

Original post:

Several readers asked for a follow-up about Kaya the kitten after our earlier post about her.

The shelter To Rescue turned to the internet for help after not a single potential adopter showed interest in Kaya, who has a congenital facial malformation but is otherwise healthy.

Kaya had successful surgery on her eyes on Nov. 16 and has been recovering in her foster home, where she continues to be her natural, playful self, shelter staff say.

She was scheduled for a follow-up vet visit today, Nov. 30. We’ll update as soon as we hear anything else.

If you’re interested in adopting sweet Kaya, you can visit the shelter’s site and fill out an adoption application.

NYC Mayoral Candidate Has 16 Cats

We normally avoid politics on this blog except for the occasional light-hearted satire imagining Buddy as a comically inept president of the Americats, but we’ll make an exception for the New York City mayoral race, which features two animal-loving major party candidates.

Eric Adams, a Democrat, is a former NYPD captain, Brooklyn borough president and vegan who has supported TNR programs in Brooklyn, pushed for more animal-friendly housing in the city and hosted adoption events in his home borough, according to the Humane Society’s Legislative Fund.

Curtis Sliwa is best known nationally as the founder of the unarmed crime prevention group the Guardian Angels, and in New York as a host on the city’s biggest talk radio station. (He’s been on hiatus since launching his mayoral campaign to comply with election law.)

He survived an attempted mafia hit in 1992, jumping out of a cab after he was shot several times by Gotti family enforcers, and he’s a dedicated cat lover, sharing his home with 16 rescues. Most of Sliwa’s cats have disabilities or were pulled from local shelter kill lists. Not all of them are permanent, and the Sliwas consider themselves long-term fosters until they can find the right homes for special needs cats. Last year they were able to place 10 kitties in good homes.

Still, the felines come first in their 87th Street apartment.

“Guess what? It’s the cats who rule the roost,” Sliwa told a New York Post cameraman in June. “We take whatever room is left after the cats carve out their territory.”

Cat furniture dominates the studio apartment Sliwa shares with his wife, Nancy, who told the Post she’s considering adopting more furballs, including a special-needs rescue who is blind. (They had 15 cats at the time and have adopted one more since then.)

Turning to her husband, she quipped: “We might have to lose your half of the closet.”

The couple share litter box duties and clean the multiple boxes in their home at least three times a day, they told the Post.

NYC mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa plays with his cats.

At the end of Tuesday’s televised mayoral debate, when asked which qualities they admire in their opponents, both Sliwa and Adams praised each other for their work with animals.

The city and its surrounding environs lean heavily blue. Sixty-eight percent of registered voters in the five boroughs are registered Democrats, and Adams holds a commanding 36-point lead according to the latest poll.

Like all Republicans who set their sights on the mayor’s job, Sliwa knew it was going to be an uphill battle even though New Yorkers have tired of the current mayor, Democrat Bill DeBlasio. Sliwa hopes one of his central campaign promises — to enact a no-kill policy across the city’s shelter system — will resonate with voters across the aisle.

Republicans who have won in the past have been centrist, like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, or nominally Republican, like businessman turned politician Michael Bloomberg. The latter enjoyed widespread name recognition before he turned to politics and supplemented his campaign hauls with his own considerable resources.

Still, the Guardian Angels founder sees Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s Upper East Side home, as a potentially fantastic cat house.

“I’ve been in Gracie Mansion before,” Sliwa told New York magazine. “There is easily room in there for 60 cats.”

‘Time To Re-Home The Wife’: Redditors Furious At Wife Who Made Husband Surrender 18 YO Cat

How could you force your husband to dump his beloved 18-year-old cat?

That’s the question many incredulous Redditors are asking after a woman told her story on a popular sub-Reddit called “Am I The Asshole?” for people second-guessing their decisions.

The woman who wrote the post said she and her husband got married about a year ago and they took the usual steps when introducing her pit bull to her husband’s cat. They started, she wrote, “by initially separating them, then by introducing them to each other’s smells, followed by letting them see each other whilst at a safe distance.”

“They appeared to get along, but after a day, the cat began making [its] dislike for the dog VERY clear,” she wrote.

The couple hasn’t been successful keeping the peace, she added, and a veterinarian who examined the cat said he was in perfect health, apparently eliminating health reasons for the cat’s alleged hostility toward the dog.

Finally, the wife “brought up the idea” of surrendering the cat. “Brought up” may mean “demanded” in this instance, but the nature of stories like this means both parties would be unreliable narrators. We just don’t know. She said she’s pregnant, which was another factor in her decision.

“We argued virtually nonstop about this for days, until my husband finally agreed to take his cat to said cat sanctuary,” she wrote. “However, he is still pretty upset with me.”

cute cat lying on pillow
Credit: cottonbro/Pexels

Most users weren’t too happy with the wife, others waved the post off as the work of a troll — albeit one who forgot the cardinal rule of trolling, that it should be funny — and some blamed the husband for caving.

“Anyone that rehomes an animal for someone they are screwing deserves the shit they will have to put up with being with that person,” one ticked-off user wrote.

Most of the condemnatory posts came from people who were incredulous not only that the wife made her husband give up his cat, but that the poor cat is 18 years old and has known nothing but a life with his human.

“Dear God, I hope this isn’t real,” one user wrote, while another summed it up succinctly: “Everything about this sucks.”

The feedback wasn’t split along gender lines either. Most users who identified themselves as female expressed concern for the cat.

“My husband’s cat passed 3 years ago at 18 years. And he would absolutely have rehomed me before he rehomed his cat,” one woman wrote. “Not that I would ever have suggested it, of course – I loved that little fart machine.”

I don’t have much to add to this, as the people who responded pretty much covered the bases. I’d like to believe this was someone’s misguided idea of humor, but in one sense it doesn’t matter because scenarios like this one play out all the time. If it is authentic, then the subtext says a lot: While the author says she “brought up the idea” of rehoming, she also says she and her husband “argued virtually nonstop” about the situation for days, and acknowledges that “he’s still pretty upset with me.”

It’s probably safe to say that’s an understatement, especially if she’s soliciting judgment from strangers on the internet as she second-guesses herself. (Side note: The idea of a sub-Reddit specifically for “catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s been bothering you,” is pretty cool. All of us could use some outside perspective at times.)

As cat-lovers (and animal-lovers in general) know, rehoming is brutal on the pet, leads to depression and can cause serious physical ailments. For an 18-year-old cat, it’s even worse.

I hope the wife has a change of heart and they take the cat back, then get to work on figuring out how to keep the peace for real this time.

At Least 20 Cats Dead In ‘Worst Nightmare’ Shelter Fire

Sad news out of Orlando, where more than 20 cats died in a late night fire that destroyed the shelter where they lived on Wednesday.

Officials from the Orange County Fire Department said one section of the building was already engulfed by the time they arrived, with flames visible through the roof. They’re not sure yet how the fire started, but flame patterns indicate it started near the front of the Pet Alliance shelter, where the cats were housed.

Firefighters were able to rescue all the dogs and 10 cats, but at least 20 — and as many as 30 — cats were still inside, with first responders unable to get to them, per the Associated Press. Of the 10 cats who were rescued, some were moved to another Pet Alliance shelter, while a few were under veterinary care for smoke inhalation and burns.

“If you run a shelter, this is literally your worst nightmare,” Stephen Bardy, the executive director of Pet Alliance,  told WFLA, an NBC affiliate in Orlando. “To see your building in fire and know that there are animals in there that you’re charged to care for and you can’t go in. …I’m grateful that the firefighters put their lives at risk to help save as many as they could.”

We don’t want to leave you with bad news only today, so here’s a hopeful story out of Portland, where a cat cafe was able to adopt out every one of its cats in less than a day since its post-COVID re-opening on Sept. 4.

Purrington’s Cat Lounge has coffee, wine and beer on the menu for guests who drop by to hang out with the cafe’s feline residents and see adoptable cats. Although it’s a popular place in the community, it’s had a tumultuous few years: First it looked headed for closure after its owners planned to move out of town, but was rescued by a kitty-loving local couple.

The new owners renovated the space and had big plans for it, but those were halted along with everyone else’s ambitions with the arrival of the pandemic in 2020.

Finally, the renovated cat cafe reopened about two weeks ago, and Portland locals — perhaps daunted by the Delta variant and the prospect of more work-from-home, socially limited months — were eager to give the resident kitties new homes. Since Sept. 4, Purrington’s has placed more than 80 cats in forever homes.

The Cat Man of Syria Cares For Forgotten Felines

Human beings have lived in the city known as Aleppo for more than 4,000 years, making it one of the oldest continually-inhabited settlements in human history.

But as the raging civil war in Syria expanded and bombs began to fall on the country’s largest city, there was an unprecedented mass exodus — reducing Aleppo’s population from 4.6 million in 2010 to less than 600,000 by 2014.

Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel was one of the stubborn few who stayed. His wife and children fled to safety in Turkey in 2015, but anchored by his commitment to people who couldn’t leave, Aljaleel stayed behind to continue driving his ambulance and feeding a growing population of abandoned cats.

At first friends and acquaintances turned to Aljaleel to take their cats as they prepared to flee the crumbling city, knowing he was fond of felines and would care for them as his own.

Others heard about the “cat man of Aleppo,” and soon Aljaleel’s home became a sanctuary for former pets from all over the city, which was becoming a ghost town.

With few remaining people to feed them — and food sources like restaurant dumpsters drying up — hungry stray cats started showing up too.

“Since everyone has left the country, including my own friends, these cats have become my friends here,” Aljaleel said in 2016, as a BBC camera crew filmed him among the hundreds of cats in his care.

Aljaleel
Aljaleel, the Cat Man of Aleppo, hugs a tabby in his care.

One day a car pulled up and a little girl stepped out, cradling a cat.

Her parents “knew there was a cat sanctuary here,” Aljaleel told the BBC at the time. “The girl had brought the cat up since she was a kitten. She cried as she handed her over to me, and they left the country.”

For many people leaving the city in search of refuge in Europe or elsewhere in Syria, the decision to leave a beloved pet was agonizing.

But entrusting a cat to Aljaleel and his makeshift sanctuary — where the animal would be fed and well cared for — was much more palatable than making it to the border of an EU country only for a border guard or customs official to refuse the cat entry, forcing families to choose between pet and safety.

Ernesto's Sanctuary kittens
Kittens who were brought to Ernesto’s Sanctuary with their mother.

For people like the little girl, knowing their cats were in Aljaleel’s sanctuary meant maintaining a tie to home and hope that they could return.

“I’ve been taking photos of the cat and sending them to her in Turkey. She begs me, ‘Send me photos of her. I miss her. Please promise to return my cat to me when I get back.'”

That was in 2016. Almost five years later it looks like the young girl won’t be returning to Syria, and her cat is likely dead.

After Aljaleel’s makeshift cat sanctuary swelled to include more than 200 cats, things took a turn for the worse.

The Syrian government and rebel forces dug in, calling on allies for support and resources. ISIS and Iranian-backed insurgents entered the fray, seeing opportunity to advance their own interests amid the chaos.

So too did Russia and the United States. Both countries treated the conflict as a proxy war, with Russia backing Assad and his Syrian government forces, while the US and its allies threw their support behind an opposition that grew out of the Arab Spring in 2011.

The US and Russia provided the combatants with training and weapons systems, increasing the destructive firepower at the command of the belligerents. Both countries sought to advance their geopolitical ambitions in the region when they entered the conflict.

Ernesto's Sanctuary
Not just cats: Alina and Samira are best friends and are inseparable. Credit: Ernesto’s Paradise

In internal memos justifying intervention in Syria, the US State Department predicted the civil war would flare out in months. Instead, the war has now lasted more than a decade, and in a move The Guardian called “a bloody end to [former President Barack] Obama’s reign,” in 2016 the US dropped 26,171 bombs on countries in the Middle East, with Syria absorbing the lion’s share.

Perhaps it was one of those bombs — or a bomb from Russia, or one of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s own warheads — that obliterated Aljaleel’s sanctuary. It’s unlikely anyone will ever know. But one thing all sides agree on is that the chlorine gas was courtesy of Assad, who has not hesitated to use chemical weapons against his own people in the bloody war.

Weeks after Aljaleel was featured in a BBC short about the impact of the war, Aljaleel “watched helplessly as his cat sanctuary was first bombed, then gassed during the intense final stages of the siege of Aleppo,” per the BBC.

Some 180 of the 200 or so cats who found refuge with Aljaleel were killed by the bomb and the chlorine gas, and the stubborn man who dug in his heels and cared for Aleppo’s cats while everyone else fled finally gave up on his city.

Aljaleel and his cats survived the power outages, the destruction of the water works, the food shortages and a military siege of the city, but now the Cat Man of Aleppo was just a cat man in an ambulance.

He packed the few surviving cats, his meager possessions and a few sick, injured or elderly people into an ambulance and joined a convoy of civilians escaping the crumbling city. It was a tense and perilous journey, as those who fled knew Assad had no reservations about targeting his own people if it served his goals.

After seeing his family and recovering in Turkey, and with the help of an Italian benefactor and a growing community of supporters on social media, Aljaleel took his cats and his friends to a rural area in Syria, far from targets of opportunity, where he purchased a plot of land, put down roots and began his sanctuary anew.

Ernesto's Paradise
Even in war, cats know when it’s time to eat. The kitties of Ernesto’s Paradise wait by the more than 100 plates set out for them, eager for meal time. Credit: Ernesto’s Sanctuary.

That sanctuary is called Ernesto’s Paradise, named after Aljaleel’s own cat.

Ernesto’s Paradise is home to several hundred cats, plus four monkeys, horses, rabbits and dogs. There’s a playground for kids and — after a long search to find a veterinarian who hadn’t fled — Ernesto’s finally has a doctor in the house too.

The civil war in Syria has created perhaps the worst refugee crises in modern history, with millions fleeing to Europe and elsewhere in search of sanctuary.

The war had claimed 387,118 souls as of December 2020, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Another 205,300 were missing and presumed dead, according to SOHR. In addition, more than 88,000 people have been tortured to death in Assad’s prisons, while thousands more were taken by ISIS and other terrorist groups operating in the country.

But “children and animals are the big losers” in war, Aljaleel told the BBC, and that’s why he chose to return.

“I’ve always felt it’s my duty and my pleasure to help people and animals whenever they need help,” he said. “I believe that whoever does this will be the happiest person in the world, besides being lucky in his life.”

You can follow and support Aljaleel’s work via Twitter, Facebook and by visiting his sanctuary’s official site. Direct donations to the sanctuary can be sent here.

Ernesto and Alaa
Ernesto the cat and Alaa Aljaleel.